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Prison Litigation Report Issued

The winter, 1993, issue of the ACLU's National Prison Project contains a status report of nationwide prison litigation for 1992. Forty states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are under court order or consent decree to limit population and/or improve conditions in either the entire state system or its major facilities. Thirty two jurisdictions are under court order for overcrowding or conditions in at least one of their major facilities, while 11 jurisdictions are under court order covering their entire prison system. Only four states have never been involved in major litigation challenging overcrowding or conditions in their prisons. The four states are Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota and Vermont.

The 11 states where the entire prison system is under court order or consent decree are: Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Of these, eight states have been cited for contempt for disobeying court orders. Six states which had been under court order or consent decree but are no longer under active court supervision are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wyoming.

The article gives a state by state breakdown of pending and past litigation challenging conditions and overcrowding. Not surprisingly, some of the biggest states, like New York and California, also have the most lawsuits against individual prisons challenging conditions of confinement even though the suits are not systemwide.

The NPP Journal is an excellent quarterly publication and is highly recommended. In addition to this article the Winter, 1993, issue has an article by Luke Janusz on the difficulties of prison publishing, changes brought about by outside AIDS activists in prisons, District of Columbia public defenders doing prison litigation, a listing of suits the NPP is involved in, a resource listing of NPP publications and a case law highlight of prison cases. Their caselaw section also includes analysis of case doctrine and where legal standards are evolving. Subscriptions are $2.00 a year to prisoners, $30.00 a year to free people. Write: National Prison Project, 1875 Connecticut Ave. N.W., # 410, Washington D.C. 20009.

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